This Sunday a special forest walk took place in that it was a 50th walk which over 5 years has brought over 5000 people from all around the world to Hambi . It has bridged the gap between forest activists and supporters, a gap that both coal industry/media interests and authorities are interested in widening through fear and lack of understanding. This is done by ignoring some of the crucial reasons that are the foundation of Hambach Forest Struggles. Reasons which Michael together with Eva has shared with all those coming to the forest. Their history of the occupation and the struggle has always been complimented with updates on present situation on energy issues, politics and resistance and the disastrous effect of coal mining on global climate. For all of that incredible work and support and grass-roots publicity a hearty Thank You goes out from the forest to both Eva and Michael for their never ending energy and solidarity with the forest struggle.
This walk was also unique in that it took place in the almost completely abandoned now town of Mannheim where demolition of house has recently begun. It was important for both visitors and forest activists to be there as a reminder that the scope of the struggle in and for Hambacher forest is also a regional, social and global issue. The center of this now ghost town for almost 2 hours was full of life with literature tables, an impromptu concert surrounded by signs, flags followed by discussion and several speakers discussing issues relating to the ongoing Bund Struggle against RWE, to the heavily industry influenced Coal Commission.
History of Mannheim itself was one of the topics. It also included heavy exploitation and logging of part of the forest under National Socialism with heavy use of forced laborers brought from the occupied parts of Europe. Natzi Forced Labor, to this day refered in germany as slave labor, was paradoxically also fuel for the resistance as tens of thousands of resistors escaped into their surrounding forests to avoid it forming and adding to the guerrila and partisan units. This is the spirit that still persists in Hambacher Forest with many escaping to the last remaining portion of the forest to be excluded from present day more covert and normalized methods of exploitation and abuse.
The walk went through the town to the fenced off areas where bulldozers have begun their work to remove all traces of Manheim. Then going outside of the town towards the eastern part of the Hambacher Forest. On a way stop was made at the BUND meadow where North Rhine Westphalia Chapter of German Friends of the Earth is also resisting RWE expropriation of land, ecosystem and resources by having purchased a farm-field which is now located less than a kilometer from edge of the mine.
Walking into the forest was a nice respite from the continuing record breaking temperatures(once again suprise, suprise and “thanks” RWE). The eastern part of the forest in places 1-2 km wide is full of 200-300 year old oaks, beeches and pines. Its diversity is a true reflection of its presence here for last 12 thousands years as most forest in Europe are now monocultures and or highly maintained forest with mostly pines or very low diversity.
The walk split up into several groups after reaching the former A4 which at that end still has not been stripped of its surface. It was not just an anniversary but also a great way for many groups, individuals and organizations involved in the struggle to come together. So mark your calendar now: next walks is a month from now or just stop by and drop in at any time for a visit to the Meadow and The Forest and most of the time somebody from the Welcome Working Group will be happy to show you around.
See you in the forest!!